There is no virtue in impatience
As an older person who is fit with a mind that’s working well, I am aware of people who are not fit in their mind, or have hearing loss, sight loss or dementia. I see how these people are discriminated against. Few others have the patience to try to understand them.
I notice a general lack of tolerance. In shops, some of the older people have to spend time finding their purses before they pay, and they hold up a queue as they do this. I see the people serving behind the counter, the look on their faces signalling, ‘Oh dear I’m going to have to wait.’ Young people need to learn what’s inside the person.
As a society we need to develop more tolerance, more understanding.
If I see someone filled with impatience I sometimes say to them, ‘When you see this older person, think of your grandmother.’ If I see someone getting het up in a shop, I hold my finger to my mouth and signal to them to count to 10. This does seem to calm them down.
The importance of being seen
There’s an older chap in this village who’s not good at personal hygiene and keeping clean. He’s also hard of hearing. I make a point of getting him into a conversation at the bus stop. No one else talks to him – people even move seats on a bus to keep away from him. I found out today he speaks four languages: English, French, German and Italian. So interesting. He thanked me so much for talking to him.
I believe in the importance of touch, so I shook his hand and this almost brought him to tears.
For many people there is a lack of understanding of this type of person. They don’t stop and consider what gets someone into that situation.
Whatever someone looks like, whatever their age, there is always a person inside.
Maybe because I’m a retired nurse I have more patience and understanding.
Let’s celebrate good examples
What can be done to help? We need younger people who are going into the caring professions to have hands-on training, not just study from books and at universities.
And we must make sure we celebrate the young people who volunteer.
There are school children from a local comprehensive helping at a lunch club I go to. It’s fantastic that they do this.
As we get older we often gain disabilities and there is a stigma about any disability. I live in a village now but I have lived in a town and I know life in London. There is definitely more tolerance outside a big city. People in villages have more time, people in towns could learn from them. We can also learn from Asian cultures. Look in any care home and there will be few Asian people there. They are being looked after at home. We in the Western world can learn from that.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age.